Professor Alexis Jay who is the chair of The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has revealed that children in youth offender institutions are still suffering from sexual abuse.
The Inquiry has found that more than 1,000 attacks are alleged to have taken place from 2009 to 2017. The report looked at the alleged sexual abuse of children held in secure units since 2009, including “Feltham and Werrington YOIs, Medway and Rainsbrook STCs and Vinney Green and Aycliffe secure children’s homes.”
Professor Alexis Jay, said she was deeply disturbed by the findings of the Inquiry and described the scale of alleged abuse in young offender institutions (YOIs) and secure training centres (STCs) as “shockingly high” as the number of children in custody has declined since mid-2008, from more than 3,000 to about 900 at any one time.
Professor Jay said:
“The harrowing accounts of non-recent child sexual abuse within custodial institutions were some of the worst cases this inquiry has heard, but I am also deeply disturbed by the continuing problem of child sexual abuse in these institutions over the last decade. It is clear these children, who are some of the most vulnerable in society, are still at risk of sexual abuse. I hope our report and recommendations can help protect them better in future.”
The report by the Inquiry found that a female staff member masturbated children at Medway STC in 2015. The report also revealed how staff at Rainsbrook STC allowed the young detainees in a room together, when they knew that one of them was going to defecate on the other’s face. Other examples from the report involve inappropriate touching of the detainees during body searches or during restraining. “Only nine alleged incidents resulted in criminal charges, of which four resulted in convictions.”
The Inquiry revealed that the institutions had been “very poorly resourced” and that staff turnover was running at unacceptably high levels “with low morale and inadequate training, including safeguarding training”.
The Inquiry is calling on the Department for Education and the Youth Custody Service to review the situation. The Inquiry wants to assess whether placing children in secure homes increases the risk of sexual abuse. The Inquiry also wants the Ministry of Justice to ban the use of “pain compliance techniques including bending of a child’s thumbs and wrists. The Justice Minster Edward Argar said that the findings of the report were “shocking” and pledged to urgently consider the findings:
“We have recognised the need for fundamental reform of youth custody to ensure that the safety, welfare and rehabilitation of young people are prioritised across all aspects of the system.
As part of this we are already conducting an urgent review into safeguarding in the youth estate, are rolling out new specialist training for staff and have commissioned an independent review of pain inducing restraint techniques. In addition, we increased frontline Youth Custody Service staff by over a third in 2018 and are completely changing our approach by investing in Secure Schools that will put education at heart of youth custody.”
Nathan Ward made allegations of serious abuse and bullying in 2016 at Medway. G4S ran Medway but were stripped of their contract. In 2014, G4S, Serco and the Youth Justice Board paid out a combined figure of almost £100,000 in damages to 14 children who had been abused at STCs between 2004 and 2008.
The IICSA enquiries are still continuing.
If you have been a victim of abuse and would like to speak to one of our specialist abuse lawyers in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can advise you on the available options for pursuing a civil damages claim. Jordans successfully represent and secure compensation for numerous victims of abuse and are experts in overcoming the particular challenges that arise in these sensitive cases. Our abuse team can be contacted on 0800 9555 094.